Do you believe in Jesus? I’ve believed in Jesus since October of 1983. When I first came to Christ I knew almost nothing. I had a sense that there was a God, but wasn’t sure. I also had a sense, before I was ever exposed to Christianity in any meaningful way, that if I died I would not go to Heaven, but would go to Hell.
Everyday I drove by a church and noticed that its parking lot was filled with cars. Why in the world are there cars in a church parking lot on a Tuesday, I wondered? One day curiosity got the best of me and I pulled into the lot of Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. I talked with the Christian school principal and a guy named Max. They explained the Gospel to me, showing me passages from the Bible. I was hesitant and conflicted. I wanted to be patient and gracious. But what I really wanted was to get out of there. But as Max shared the scriptures with me something began to click. It made sense. When he asked me to pray to receive Christ I was still hesitant and afraid, but I did it anyway. That evening I became a Christian. But what did I really know beyond the first bit of knowledge that Jesus died for me and rose from the dead? Not much. If someone were to have asked me why I believed in Jesus at that moment I would not have known what to say. So here it is, over 30 years later, and I’m pondering what I’ve learned and believed and how I’ve changed. You know what?
I know what to say.
Why I believe in Jesus today, after 30+ years in Christ, is different than why I first believed. There are many reasons why I believe in Jesus. They are reasons that everyone should consider. Some are subjective, dealing with what has gone on in my heart for the last 30+ years. Some reasons are more objective. In other words, evidence outside of my perspectives and feelings about Jesus that convince me year after year about the truth of who he is. There are many reasons why I believe in Jesus—and why I hope you will believe in Jesus. But for this article I will share just six.
I have four reasons outside of my personal experience that convince me that Jesus is who he claimed to be. They are,
- The trustworthiness of the Bible
- Fulfilled prophecy
- The testimony of the Bible about Jesus’ life
Creation: In the last thirty years I’ve considered the claims of evolutionists, creationists, and intelligent designers. The more I learn about the nature of the cosmos and the complexity of life I come away stunned. This is especially true about biology. How can ordered, meaningful, intelligent, encoded information in the form and complexity of DNA arise on its own with such enormous variety? A self-originating system does not seem to be a persuasive argument to me. The caused must have a Cause, and that Cause must be intelligent.
The trustworthiness of the Bible: No discovery of any nature has ever controverted a biblical reference. The Bible is not a book of philosophy, or a volume of mythology. It presents itself as an historical account about the things which it reports. There are many types of literature in the Bible, but its overall testimony is historical. Invalidate its historical context and its claims will fall apart. Yet, to this day, its historical accounts remain valid and trustworthy. Even if you don’t regard the Bible as God’s word, you can at least trust that it is a trustworthy account about the things it reports. And there is one class of writing in the Bible that reports accurately beyond any other literature in history: prophecy.
There are more than 300 specific prophecies in the Old Testament about the first coming of Jesus Christ. And there are hundreds more about other events prior to Christ, and even about things which have taken place in our own lifetimes, like the reestablishment of Israel as a sovereign nation. The Bible claims foreknowledge of a great many historic events—none of which has ever been controverted. Hundreds of years before they took place the Old Testament foretold the Persian, Greek, and Roman empires. Hundreds of prophesies foretold the coming of Jesus at a specific time and place in history and what his life and death and resurrection would look like.The discovery of the Dead Seas Scrolls confirmed that writings of these prophesies centuries before the events took place. And these are not vague prophesies. They are specific, detailed, and even drop names. The Bible isn’t just an account of history. It is an account of future history. And none of its accounts has ever been invalidated by any discovery.
The testimony of the Bible about Jesus’ life: If the Bible is accurate and truthful and trustworthy about the events which it reports, then it naturally follows that its accounts about Jesus are also accurate and truthful and trustworthy. Jesus made specific claims unlike any other person in history. The Bible reports he validated those claims by referring to prophecy and performing miraculous signs as evidence to his claims. His ultimate validation was his death on the cross (prophesied in the Old Testament) and his resurrection from the dead, never to die again. If the Bible’s accounts are trustworthy, then we can trust its accounts of Jesus’ resurrection—arguably the most difficult of things to believe. I have chosen to trust its account and therefore I trust what it says about Jesus. He is the Son of God, crucified for our forgiveness, dead, buried, and yet forever bodily risen from the dead.
Subjective reasons for faith in Christ are those things that are experiential in nature; the things we feel and experience that we attribute to God. They are subjective because they seem to lie inside ourselves. By themselves they do not offer a final proof for who Jesus is. But in combination with the other proofs they demonstrate a faithful God at work in the life of the believer. This has happened to me in two areas.
- The testimony of a changed life
- God’s calling on my life and its fulfillment
The testimony of a changed life: Anyone of any persuasion can make a case for how what they believe has changed his or her life. This happens everyday around the world with people of many religions and no religion at all. It is simply common sense that if a person decided to believe in something whole heartedly, especially something that is designed to change a person’s life, then that person’s life will be changed. This is also true of Christianity. A testimony of a changed life is designed to affirm whatever it is that has changed that person. My life changed when I came to Christ and it continues to change as I continue to submit myself to him. But what my testimony points to is not a passing philosophy or mythological being. It points to the historical testimony found in the Bible and its greatest personality, Jesus. This is superior to the testimony produced by all other religions and philosophies because it points to the highest claims of Christ—that he is the one and only Son of the Living God who himself is the Author of all creation. You can become a Buddhist or a Hindu or an Atheist; these things will change you life. But their claims are all trumped by the claims of Christ—higher and superior than any other.
God’s calling on my life and its fulfillment: This is something ongoing in my life. In 1988 the Lord showed me that I would become a Christian broadcaster outside of the United States. By itself that claim is subjective. Yet without seeking such a career, in fact, when I was trying hard to run in exactly the opposite direction, the Lord fulfilled what he said he would do. I have done this very thing in three countries and am preparing to move to my fourth country in fulfillment of that calling. I could have had a great radio career in the U.S. For a long time, even after the calling, it was all I cared about until 2002 when a brother in Christ told me that he believed God wanted me to become the manager of a Christian TV station in Mongolia. It was the last thing I would ever entertain. I wanted nothing to do with it. I did everything I could to run in the other direction, like Jonah, away from that which God had called me. Yet, three months later I was officially offered the chance to do that very thing—and my life radically changed, and continues to change.
I believe in Jesus. For these reasons above and for many others, I believe in Jesus. For over 30 years he has lead me, even when I ignored him. He has radically and forever changed my life. He has become my supreme affection. Based upon my experience with Jesus and the testimony of both creation and the Bible I can say with all confidence that anyone who truly surrenders themselves to Jesus will have their lives radically and forever changed as well.